Be With, New Directions

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In Gander's follow up to his extraordinary book of loss and lamentation, Be With, (for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize), this poet of metaphysical abstraction, Eros, and intimate observation — and even adulation — of the natural world finds fresh metaphors for the sudden and uneasy onset of new love in the life cycles of lichen, which is "theoretically immortal," can reproduce asexually, and achieves "a/ contested mutuality," a phrase that begins to describe Gander's sense of new love after grief. Despite Gander's affection for challenging scientific and philosophical vocabularies, this may be his most conversational and accessible book, in which he observes not only "Erogenous zones in oaks/ slung with/ stoles of lace lichen" but also the vision of a new love "when her lavish face turns toward him/ beaming, the corners of her eyes wind-wet."

It's not easy, nor merely fun, to fall in love, especially after loss (Gander's longtime partner, the poet C.D. Wright, died in 2016), and these poems — set in a series of sequences, varied forms, and even a photo essay — never yield to giddiness; rather, they are constantly seeking permission, guidance, even role models in nature, which finds ingenious yet almost always circuitous routes toward coupling and what comes after. "Whoever/ thought anyone was just one thing?" Gander asks, a reminder that nothing could be more natural than, if not conflict, then ambivalence, a strong pull from opposite directions. Though hardly without regrets and uncertainties, these are ultimately hopeful poems, attesting to the human capacity for renewal, the willingness to "take hold/ in a pulse of heat,/ in a yes and no,/ for already we can see/ we are no longer what we were." — Craig Morgan Teicher


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NPR by Craig Teicher






On Books by Forrest Gander:

A complex reading experience punctuated by intense beauty— Washington Post Book World

One answer to the way death 'constructs silence' is to believe, as does Gander, that the soul is 'multilingual in the same tongue.' His trinity of natural science, spirit, and language tempts us to believe it's so. —The Colorado Review

Forrest Gander is insistently, often gorgeously, a poet of space—the spaces of landscape and geology, the spaces of erotic and patrilineal bodies, and the spaces among and inside the words on the page of a poem . . . . If Gander’s philosophical strain and flamboyant lingo suggest Wallace Stevens, and his conversance with science and his stress on the “ongoing” recall A. R. Ammons, he insinuates a knotty, digressive intensity that is fully his own. —Book Forum

Gander has always been an innovative poet, and one deeply concerned with the events, and languages, beyond America's borders…. he brings the world's frightening and beautiful strangeness far beyond the edge of the page.—Oprah